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January 18, 2011
LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA
DAVE SENKO: We welcome Bubba Watson. Bubba tied for second here last year, had a really good year, broke through. Talk a little bit maybe just about the success of a year ago and how you're hoping to carry that into this year.
BUBBA WATSON: A year ago was a crazy year as my dad was going through his battles and then he passed away, won for the first time, I got to play in the Ryder Cup first time, hopefully not the last. It was a dream come true, it was a great year, tough year for family, but a great year at the same time. My dad got to see everything.
So this year it's just we're going to try to do the same things. Obviously not have health problems in our family, but we're just going to practice golf, putting, hopefully make some putts and hopefully the year turns out just as good.
The goal is always to win. Second goal is always to get on a Ryder Cup or a President's Cup team. So have a chance to get in the President's Cup team this year and fight for the U.S. again.
DAVE SENKO: In the off season did you do anything different or special during that time?
BUBBA WATSON: This winter me and my wife we spent Christmas together this time just us two. Nobody else around, just us two. So it was nice. It was different. It was hard on my mom not being there for her, but she understood that I need some time a way, I needed to just get away and not be bothered by anybody. We all need that sometimes. So it worked out good for me and my wife just to hang out and just us two. We didn't get in any fights either, so it was good.
DAVE SENKO: Any fond memories of this tournament, especially from a year ago?
BUBBA WATSON: The best part I remember about a year ago was that my wife got to play. It was our fifth year anniversary I gave her that present and now that present I guess went over to this year. Because she's playing again. But that's the best part is that, she just seeing the joy on her face and wanting to do that and being competitive again. Playing professional basketball and not really being competitive again and wanting to feel the juices and get to feeling how nervous she was.
I finished the first round and went over to SilverRock and walked with her for the back nine. So it was good. It was fun doing that and watching my wife again play a sport. And so, and then come in second is always great, wish I would have won. Shot 66 with no bogeys on the last round and Bill Haas just beat me. Played great. It was nice to see him and his dad hug right there.
And then a few months later I win. So it worked out. It always works out in the end and so it's been fun and hopefully we can get some more of that magic this year.
Q. You were pretty open about talking about your dad last year on Twitter and things, did being public like that help you go through that process?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm a Christian first so the bible helped me through all the processes that I go through in my life. But being -- I've never been No. 1 in the world, so I never had the people hound me down and want everybody wanting my time.
This is a joy for me that y'all actually want to talk to me right now. So for me it was away for my fans to get it out there and not hide it from anybody not try to be secretive. I was secretive about it first part of the year, didn't tell everybody about what was going on in our family. Angie had a scare, my dad had the cancer, so it was just the way that to get other prayers, other people out there to pray for me and my family and hopefully help go through the process, but really the process was just to get it out there and get it off my chest so I didn't have to be bothered at golf tournaments, because when I was at golf tournaments it's about me doing my job.
Q. And now that it's over, can you talk about how much of a burden was it playing last year? When you look back do you think it affected how you played golf last year?
BUBBA WATSON: It probably helped me. Because my dad wanted me to play golf. My dad was asking me to play golf. He was in the hospital when I was at the -- he was getting fluids in him every day when I was at Ryder Cup. So for me to be across the country talking to him at midnight every day was hard. Not to bring that on the team, not to talk about it at the team, not to talk about it in the media, it was hard for me to go through. But it helped me because he wanted me to, he wanted to see his son play in the Ryder Cup so it worked out great.
Q. You talked about the off season being just long enough. Was that decompression time after the entire, after everything that happened? It wasn't just your father, obviously but the Ryder Cup, having a huge year, all that?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I can't sit still, so my wife makes me stay at home sometimes. I wanted to go play in Malaysia and China, my first time getting in China. So I wanted to go play all these events and my wife said, you haven't played in three weeks, don't just go over there.
And so I had to, yeah, I had to rest and realize that I did go through some struggles, had some great times and some bad times and my body just needs to rest. My mind needs to rest more than anything. So it's hard to do, but, yeah, I guess that's what it was. It was just us relaxing during the winter and just hanging out and getting away from golf.
Q. My condolences, Bubba.
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you.
Q. What was your dad's take on the Ryder Cup? What did he tell you?
BUBBA WATSON: He said I sucked. I didn't play very good.
(Laughter.) The normal dad stuff.
No, it was a fun experience. I want to play better, I want to play better every week. If I miss the cut this week I want to play better. It's not that I'm a bad golfer, it's just I played bad for one week.
So I didn't play as well as I wanted to over there, but my dad was proud of me. He enjoyed watching it. My mom enjoyed watching it. So he was excited, but at the same time he said the normal stuff that I didn't putt very good, I lost my matches, same stuff every parent says.
Q. What are you expecting from Rickie Fowler this year?
BUBBA WATSON: Haircut?
(Laughter.) No. I talk to him, actually talked to him yesterday, bugged him a little bit. I'm expecting good things. The guy's a great player. Me and him are a lot alike in the aspect of not a lot of swing coaches, I don't know how many, I think he had one growing up. But now he doesn't really have swing thoughts he just plays golf. He plays the golf he wants to play, wears the clothes he wants to wear. He's the person he wants to be. Just like me.
There's no reason for me to impress anybody else except myself. Just do what I want to do. Make my wife happy and then everybody else, who cares, you know.
So, you know, um, so I expect great things out of him. I think he does that. He holds his own and he does what he wants to do. So I expect him to do great and hopefully I'm one shot better than him each week.
Q. You had a great tournament last year, but what is it that attracts you to coming to the desert here?
BUBBA WATSON: This weather. I always look at real estate, I love looking at real estate and see what's going on. And me and my wife were joking about here, because I love having my own golf cart. You got six golf courses right around here, so if you lived here, had a house here, you could take your golf cart to six golf courses and just play all the golf you want and beat the old guys, so that's heaven for me.
No, it's just great weather. You got good greens, you got good golf courses in great shape. So why would you not want to start your year out here or hopefully start in Maui, like I did, and then come here, one of the first three events of the year it's always a great place and you get your putter rolling and you can win this golf tournament.
Q. How do you gear up for five rounds versus four rounds?
BUBBA WATSON: One less practice round and you just play golf and it counts. For me I love playing golf, I play every day. So me and my wife got here Saturday, played 36 on, no, 30 holes on Sunday, played at a different golf course yesterday off site and then she's out playing right now.
So I just love playing golf. I already played this morning, going to play some this afternoon. And so it doesn't bother me at all. That's why we try to get in shape so you can make it around here. But it's fun it's only 18 holes, it's not 36. It's easy.
Q. What's your impression of what Larry Thiel has done with the tournament this year? Obviously he's brought in a few more ranked players, but what's your impression of what he's done and the changes he's made?
BUBBA WATSON: At this tournament?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, the tournament, the sad thing is, I hate to say this to everybody, but I'm just going to go on record. There's a lot of great players out there. Me included. I won't say great, I'll say okay. But there's a lot of guys. The 128 man field here? No. 1, No. 2, maybe not No. 3, I don't know who what the world ranking is, um, are not here. But they're still great golfers out here.
There's guys, the number 128 in the field this week, he can probably beat all of y'all. So he's pretty good, you know. So just saying. So he's pretty good.
For the field, so whatever field there is, is still good players. There's baseball players out there I never heard of that won World Series, there's football players that got rings that I never heard of them. So I think there's always great players out there. And I think this field will sell itself, but it's just the beauty of these golf courses and the sunlight, until last year, but the sunlight and then just the excitement around here for all the guys that live around here, I think the tournament does great and it should keep going. And Bob Hope, you know, he pushed a lot of this and keep it going with the celebrities and pros.
I don't really -- check out the field. I mean the guy 128 that's the last one in the field is going to, has a chance to beat me, just like I have a chance to beat him. So there's a lot of great players here, just because the top-ranked ones aren't here, it's still a good field.
Q. Did it bother you last year when this tournament was kind of like the Bob Hope Classic, highest ranked player was Mike Weir at number 37 in the world. Does is that bother you?
BUBBA WATSON: No, because at that time last year 37 was where I wanted to be. You know. I wasn't there. I was still up in like 70 something.
So, no, it doesn't, I mean the fields, that's all media talk. The guys are great players. Just because I don't make two putts and lose by one, doesn't mean I'm not a good player it just means I got beat.
So the guys are trying to beat everybody. Like I said before, Mike Weir at 37 is better than y'all at whatever y'all would be ranked, you know. What are ya'll ranked in the press, media world? Let's get that number out.
Q. Somewhere in the millions.
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, yeah. Well, that's nice, I was going to say a little higher, but.
(Laughter.) I mean not you guys, but the other guys.
Q. Same four courses, same rotation as year, first time it's happened that way in a while. Can you talk about the golf courses and is there a single par-5 out there that you can't reach in two?
BUBBA WATSON: There's the one at SilverRock it's like 645, I'm guessing.
Q. No. 12.
BUBBA WATSON: No, 12, that's nothing.
(Laughter.) 7. I hit 4-wood off that tee because the hole's not, it's not a good hole to go for in two. I could do it playing with buddies, I did it playing with my wife the other day, but in the tournament I hit 4-wood off the tee and lay up. Just because it's, the risk, it's just a, you got risk on both shots. The drive is a risk and then the second shot's a risk. So you play smart and hopefully wedge it close. So that's not one I'm going to go for unless I'm, so that's my first round, so if I'm 14-over I might just go for it there.
Q. How are your wife's nerves this year, being her second tournament?
BUBBA WATSON: Well we'll find out tomorrow. But she's excited right now. She's jittery, she's wanting to hit balls non-stop. She's wanting to get ask people how her swing looks and so, yeah, she's nervous. But I tell her it doesn't matter what it looks like, it's just the score. If you have a three, but it looked terrible, who cares? Might skull it in the hole, it doesn't matter.
Q. Is there anything specifically you learned here last year that helped you with Hartford, helped you get in the PGA playoff?
BUBBA WATSON: That helped me like here?
Q. Anything you learned finishing second here?
BUBBA WATSON: Any time you play good it means you can do it. So starting the year off real quick playing well showed me that I can do it. Didn't show me I was going to do it every day, but it showed me that I can do it so when I get in that situation again I should be comfortable with it, because I mean Bill Haas ended up just beating me. I went bogey-free on a Sunday, shot 66 and he played two shots better. So it showed that when I get in that situation don't be afraid of it and just play golf. So it worked out at Hartford and then I almost won a Major.
Q. How would you compare your level of self belief today from a year ago?
BUBBA WATSON: The same. I always believe in myself. There's never a doubt in my mind, it's just getting that, the mind right, getting the mind focused. Focusing on what I'm supposed to be doing on that shot and not worrying about what we're having for dinner or what video games I'm going to play that night. You know, I got a lot of thoughts going through the old head there.
Q. Do you give your wife golf tips? Are you her coach or do you just let her do it on her own?
BUBBA WATSON: I told her a long time ago when we started dating, when we got married, to just go play golf, just hit balls on the range. That's what I did. That's how I learned. I said as a basketball player if the coach tells you you're going to shoot this shot every time and you're going to shoot over here every time, you practice that shot. You sit there for hours or minutes and you practice that shot and get used to that shot so in the game you make that shot. And then you do the same thing over here.
So on the, around the green we practice chipping, practice bunker shots, hitting shots from a hundred yards. You always have those shots. So a coach can't make you practice, he tells you you're going to have a hundred yard shot at some point, so practice that. So that's what I told her, I said, you just practice all the shots. And get better at the game. And you'll figure out how to get better at the game. It's an easy game it's just our mind gets in the way.
And so that's what I told her and she got better and she got down to a three handicap and for some reason she needed lessons. And I said, I can't help you then. You're out there.
So she had one lesson and shot 70. And then this winter she shot, she had a lesson and shot 70 and then shot 90 the next day. She's going to be mad I just told you that. Then she says she don't want lessons anymore.
Q. How do you, how does the wife of a pro golfer go looking for a coach?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I based it on my friends and so I let one of my friends that I knew that, a great man, Bill Grove at TPC and TPC Scottsdale so he looked at her and joked with her and said, look, you don't need my help, look how good this swing is. It's all in your head. Maybe a shrink or something, I don't know.
Q. Where did she shoot the 70?
BUBBA WATSON: At Estancia where we're members in Scottsdale.
DAVE SENKO: Bubba, thank you for your time. Do well this week.
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts